A new Walgreens drug store

proposed for the intersection of Pico and Lincoln boulevards is a much smaller project than the contentious Bergamot Transit Village Center development that’s been in the news recently. But, it’s still causing much anxiety for adjacent Sunset Park neighbors.

Traffic impacts resulting from the Walgreens proposal are a major sticking point here, too. Plans are for vehicles to access the Walgreens parking lot from Bay Street/Lincoln Court next to the new drug store, which is proposed for the southeast corner of the busy intersection.

City Hall wants to avoid a driveway on Lincoln, especially so close to Pico Boulevard for, if nothing else, obvious safety reasons. However, “back door” parking lot access also has problems: vehicles coming and going a stone’s throw from nearby apartments, homes and condos.

Another issue is “24 hour operation,” meaning plenty of noisy activity ‘round the clock. Engine noise, car alarms, doors slamming, blaring car stereos and loud conversations in the middle of the night will constitute a continual nightmare for neighbors living, and trying to sleep, literally 23 feet from the proposed store and its parking lot. Therefore, for the sake of adjacent families, store hours must be limited.

Then there’s alcohol sales. Walgreens wants to sell beer, wine and hard liquor or “spirits.” They must obtain a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from City Hall and it also needs City Hall’s blessing as a condition for a California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) license.

City Hall loves alcohol sales because it brings in tax revenue. I believe that here, it’s too high a price to pay for irreparably destroying a whole neighborhood’s quality of life.

The immediate area is already awash with alcohol licensees and home to several rehabilitation clinics, a youth center, sober living centers and Santa Monica High School. Because of the numerous existing alcohol outlets, the corner and adjacent alleys are frequently a hang-out for chronic inebriates and the site of alcohol-related criminal activity.

The Santa Monica Police Department provides input on CUPs, especially when alcohol or other factors affecting law enforcement are concerned. For the above mentioned reasons plus fears about underage drinkers accessing alcohol, Sgt. Richard Lewis e-mailed me and confirmed, “The department has opposed the issuance of a new alcohol license.”

Lewis added, “If one were to be issued, we would like to see conditions attached. Those are having a security guard at the location, having the alcohol at the back of the store, limited to a small area and only to be sold in bulk.”

The Walgreens project is tentatively scheduled for Planning Commission and public review on Wed, Sept. 21. Restrictions such as reducing neighborhood traffic impacts, eliminating 24 hour operation and a complete restriction of alcohol sales must be imposed on this development.

Another nightmare

As if all the large developments in the eastern Mid-City area aren’t enough, neighbors in the Wilshire /Reed Park area shouldn’t feel left out. There’s a massive hotel development coming your way.

The proposed project at 710 Wilshire Blvd. includes the remodeling of the landmark Santa Monica Professional Building at the corner of Wilshire and Seventh Street across from Reed Park into a hotel with 55 guest rooms, retail and restaurant uses.

In addition to renovating the Professional Building for hotel use, developer Maxser & Co is asking, as part of a Development Agreement (DA), to erect a rather homely hotel wing, 81 feet tall with 230 additional guest rooms and 16,421 square foot retail/restaurant space on what is presently a surface parking lot at 1213-1233 Seventh St. Current zoning for the site is 50 feet height (four floors).

The new wing will feature a seventh floor rooftop swimming pool, spa and fitness center. Underground parking for 284 vehicles is projected — 100 fewer than required by code. Architecturally, it looks like the “El Cheapo Hotel” in downtown Lubbock, Texas.

In addition, developer Maxser wants to build a separate, mixed-use, 24-unit residential building with ground floor retail on another lot across Seventh Court fronting on Lincoln Boulevard.

Maxser limited partner Alexander Gorby and his family members have been frequent and generous contributors to the election/re-election campaigns for all the “big five pro-development council persons.”

The draft EIR “determined that implementation of the project will result in the following significant and unavoidable impacts” involving aesthetics, air quality, historic resources, hazardous materials, construction issues, land use, neighborhood effects, noise, transportation, traffic and more.

Once the draft EIR is completed, Maxser’s development will go before the Planning Commission — probably in November and to City Council in December for DA review. I’m betting the family Prius that Maxser will be given the whole enchilada making the score Developers 4, Residents zip.

Public input on the draft EIR will be accepted until 5:30 p.m. on Thurs. Sept. 1. Comment to: Jing Yeo, City Planning Division. E-mail: Jing.Yeo@smgov.net

Time to speak up, folks.

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com